While the thesis is a self-directed, student-driven project, a team of support staff and faculty are in place to help direct, facilitate, and mentor you through the process.
Honors Program Executive Committee:
Collectively, the Honors Program Directors and Advisement Supervisor oversee the Honors thesis requirement, policies, and process. This committee reviews all Honors thesis proposals and must approve a proposal before you begin research or receive thesis funding. The Executive Committee retains authority over the final acceptance and approval of Honors theses for University Honors graduation requirements and publication.
Honors Student Advisors:
Our Honors student advisors are available to talk about program requirements, deadlines, graduation requirements, event details, or other general information about the thesis. Honors student advisors are located in the Honors Program Office in 102 MSRB. You can reach them by phone at (801) 422-5497, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person from 8–5 M–F (except during devotional hour).
The thesis committee is comprised of a Faculty Thesis Advisor, a Faculty Reader and the Department Honors Coordinator. In the event an Honors Coordinator is serving as the Faculty Advisor on a student thesis, a second faculty reader is required. There must always be a minimum of three faculty members on a thesis committee.
Honors Policy Note: Honors thesis advisors must be BYU full-time, tenure-track faculty. Honors Coordinators are, by nature of their assignment, also full-time faculty. Whenever possible, faculty readers should also be full-time faculty; however, the faculty reader(s) may be visiting/part-time/adjunct if their expertise is important to the thesis research. Outside experts (non-BYU personnel) may be included as a fourth member of a committee. Students should clearly articulate an adjunct’s role, their qualifications, and importance to the thesis project in their proposal. All members of the committee should be available through the complete thesis process, including the final defense, so students should avoid including committee members who do not plan to remain at BYU. (Adopted 3/31/17)
Thesis Faculty Advisor:
- Selected by student in consultation with Department Honors Coordinator
- Full-time, tenure-track faculty
- Lead member of thesis committee
- Files for IRB approval on behalf of the student when required
A student’s faculty thesis advisor supervises the development of a student’s honors thesis from inception to completion. The student-faculty advisor relationship is therefore key to a successful thesis experience – even more so than the topic itself. Students may consider faculty from whom they have had courses, whose scholarly research coincides with their interests, or others recommended by the Honors Coordinator or Honors Program. We encourage students and faculty to focus on a good mentoring relationship first, and a specific thesis topic second. Both may need to be flexible and willing to explore options before settling on a specific area of research; however, it is up to the thesis advisor (not the student) to determine if a topic shows sufficient depth and promise for an Honors thesis based on Honors Program guidelines and discipline-specific standards. The topic must also be of an appropriate scope to allow students to complete the work in a reasonable timeframe (usually 2-4 semesters).
During the proposal stage, advisors will offer comments and suggestions about proposal content and parameters. The advisor must read and approve the thesis proposal before it is submitted to other members of the thesis committee, and then to the Honors Program for final approval. It is critical that students have regular, scheduled meetings with their advisor throughout the Honors thesis project, and we expect students to demonstrate initiative and follow-through in keeping their advisor and other committee members informed of their progress. When the faculty advisor and other members of the thesis committee agree the thesis is ready to submit and defend, the advisor will sign the Thesis Submission Form. He/she will chair the defense, and, in cooperation with other committee members, determine whether the student will pass the defense.
- Selected by student in consultation with faculty advisor
- Full-time faculty recommended; may be visiting or adjunct faculty
- Member of thesis committee
- May represent secondary field expertise
With the help of the advisor, students are responsible to select a faculty member to serve as another expert in their field of research and act as a third reader. Often this person represents a second discipline in an interdisciplinary thesis or another faculty member from the same or a similar department as the advisor. A reader's role is usually simpler than that of an advisor; he or she reviews and must approve the thesis proposal at the beginning of the process, and then reviews the final thesis and participates on the thesis defense committee. However, students may wish to consult with faculty readers more regularly where their input and expertise is valuable to the thesis research or writing process. Regardless of their day-to-day level of involvement, students should keep faculty readers apprised of progress throughout.
Students will want to choose someone who is supportive, well qualified, and who can be objective in his/her analysis of the thesis. While we strongly encourage students to select full-time faculty members to serve as readers, visiting faculty or adjunct faculty may be selected when their area of expertise is valuable to the thesis topic, and the faculty member will be available (at BYU) through to completion of the thesis.
The Honors Coordinator:
- Appointed by Department
- Full-time, tenured faculty
- Major/Field-specific mentor for Honors students
- Member of thesis committee
- Honors representative at department level
The Honors Coordinator serves as the departmental liaison between the Honors Program and students in the various disciplines across campus. Appointed by each department, Honors Coordinators are full-time, tenured faculty members who regularly work with the Honors Program and are qualified to advise students on the Honors thesis. The Coordinator should know the faculty in their discipline and their general research interests in order to better refer students to possible mentors and field experts. We strongly encourage Coordinators to facilitate introductions between students and other faculty. He or she is also familiar with what makes a good thesis in their respective field and can assist students in identifying possible thesis topics. If a chosen thesis topic is interdisciplinary in nature, the Honors Coordinator in a student’s home major may also refer them to the Coordinator of the other discipline relevant to the thesis. A current list of the Coordinators for each major is available here.
As the representative of Honors in each department, the Honors Coordinator gives approval for Honors thesis proposals in their department. Coordinators must read the thesis proposal, work through any concerns or issues with students and faculty advisors, and grant departmental approval (signature required) before students submit the proposal and accompanying submission form to the Honors Program office. The Honors Coordinator helps the Honors Program determine whether students have demonstrated a sufficient knowledge of the subject, if their focus and methods are appropriate, and whether their research will need IRB approval to proceed.
Coordinators serve as the third member of the student’s thesis committee going forward, and therefore we anticipate Coordinators will be in touch with students from the proposal stage, through the research and writing process, to the final defense. Throughout this process, Coordinators work with the faculty advisor and faculty reader. These three individuals together comprise the student’s thesis committee. Therefore, as a member of the thesis committee, Honors Coordinators attend and participate in the thesis defense and act as the Honors Program representative in granting final thesis approval at the department level.